Myanmar upgrades civil aviation business to boost air transport

YANGON, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) — Myanmar is upgrading its civil aviation business in a bid to boost the air transport sector amid growing tourist arrivals in the country year-on-year.

As part of the move, it has recently corporatized Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) in operation to facilitate investment in air transportation technology and services.

The corporatization of the MNA, which was renamed from Myanma Airways (MA), is aimed at reinvigorate the country’s aviation industry and improving the MNA’s aviation hospitality.

MNA is making preparation to launch new domestic flights and services soon to provide an integrated airline management system and online reservation and ticketing system and departure control system as part of its transformation program to meet international standard.

The airline plans to expand its current fleet with new Boeing aircraft to modernize its flight services.

The Ministry of Transport announced that it will lease 10 new Boeing aircraft, including six Boeing 737-800s and four Boeing 737- 8 MAX models from U.S.-based GE Capital Aviation Services.

The first plane is expected to arrive in June this year to add to the currently operating nine aircraft, while the remaining will arrive within five years, said the MNA.

The MNA plans to launch its first ever international routes to China, China’s Hong Kong and Taiwan in April this year.

It plans to upgrade major international airports in the country and build one more modernized international airport as an expansion of its aviation infrastructure.

In October-December 2012, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) of Myanmar invited bid from the private sector to upgrade the Yangon International Airport in the form of public private partnership with private sector financing.

Before the bidding, the DCA conducted a pre-qualification for local and foreign investors. Of the 11 qualified, seven organizations submitted the tender.

Of the seven organizations, a Myanmar private company — Yangon Aerodrome won the tender opened in December 2014 and was awarded to take up work for upgradation of the Yangon International Airport and its services.

The concession agreement was signed between the two sides.

The Yangon International Airport, which now handling 2.7 million passengers per year, is said to be able to accommodate up to 6 million passengers after upgradation at a cost of 150-170 million USD.

Meanwhile, a Japanese company — MC Jalux Airport Services Co Ltd had also signed a concession agreement with DCA in November 2014 to upgrade the Mandalay International Airport in the north into a logistic hub at a cost of 100 million USD, aimed at creating direct transportation of goods to other countries in Asia and Europe.

Moreover, Myanmar awarded in October 2014 the Singapore-listed Yongnam Holdings consortium a 1.5 billion U.S. dollars’ contract to build the new Hanthawaddy International Airport in central Bago region, which is set to replace the Yangon International Airport in the future.

The airport, estimated to cost about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars, will be built on 3,645 hectares of land where then Japanese invasion army built an airport during World War II.

The project is targeted to complete within three to four years and be operational by 2019 to handle 12 million passengers per year.

Lying 80 km northeast of Yangon, the airport, which will be the country’s fourth and largest of its kind, is set to become the primary gateway to Myanmar.

The contract to build the airport was originally won by South Korea’s Incheon Airport Consortium. However, negotiation broke down in January last year after disagreement between Myanmar’s DCA and the Incheon Group over certain aspects of the South Korean proposals, prompting the government to reopen the tender in February of the year.

The Hanthawaddy International Airport will draw more foreign direct flights to Myanmar and increase tourist arrivals as Bago region lies on ASEAN highway.

Myanmar has been carrying out a plan of privatization of all domestic airport management businesses to promote the civil aviation industry.

Besides the three existing international airports — Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, there are also 30 regional airports in Myanmar totaling 33.

Domestic private airlines in operation in Myanmar comes to eight, while foreign airlines that fly Myanmar remain as 24.

According to statistics, the number of tourist arrivals has increased year by year, reaching 1.06 million in 2012 and 2.04 million in 2013 and 3.05 million in 2014.

The country expects to 5 million tourists in 2015.

Source: Global Post

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